Wednesday, March 07, 2018

What's real? What's fake? Technology challenges our perception of reality.

In honor of Philip K. Dick, let's plunge into an age-old topic of philosophy, science fiction, and nerdy sophomores everywhere... "what is real and how can we tell?" After all, how do I know I am the emperor, dreaming I'm a butterfly, or the butterfly, dreaming I'm a sci fi author?   Starting off --

Artificial Intelligence is Killing the Uncanny Valley - and Our Grasp on Reality: Sandra Upson’s article in WIRED explores the ability of modern AI systems to visually create almost any semblance – or falsification – of reality. “Some AI-generated content will be used to deceive, kicking off fears of an avalanche of algorithmic fake news. Old debates about whether an image was doctored will give way to new ones about the pedigree of all kinds of content, including text.” 

To which I respond that folks should read my chapter from The Transparent Society: “The end of photography, as proof of anything at all.”  There’s not a word I’d change, as the world has caught up with this long- predicted problem… and even parts of the predicted solution.

Sure, the prospect is daunting. “If you were to see a picture of me on the moon, you would think it’s probably some image editing software... But if you hear convincing audio of your best friend saying bad things about you, you might get worried. It’s a really new technology and a really challenging problem.”

Amid all the media frenzy and panic, a small number of folks have written to me about an interview I gave on CNN-Money, way back in 2000, at the tail end of the 20th Century, which seems all too relevant in 2017, touching upon politicians and sex scandals and the ramifications of these (naturally, in 2000, talking about Bill Clinton). And it mentioned how the public responses to the scandal tended to be wise and proportionate.

== Communities & Communication Key ==

My friends at Alphabet's "X" company received FCC permission to fly their Project Loon balloons over Puerto Rico restoring LTE cell phone connections to the beleaguered populace. I'd be surprised if it happened without serious arm-twisting on those unimaginative stodges at Verizon and AT&T. Had they a scintilla of innovation or patriotism in their souls, they would have long ago activated a capability that's already in all Qualcomm chips, allowing peer-to-peer text passing when phones cannot detect an active cell tower. 

I've been hectoring our Protector Caste for this, for two decades. If it existed, Katrina and the recent Maria devastation would have been far less harmful to millions of people, who could have communicated, self-organized and recovered far faster. Hurrah for X! and Yay Qualcomm. Stay independent and creative.

(Coincidentally, I'll be speaking at "X" on Friday.)

It occurs to me that this might be a good time to call a mini conference about Resilient Communications. The Cell-companies have proved undeserving of the public trust. Here’s my explanation of how phones could work well even in crises. 

I am a big supporter of EFF and you should all join! (Especially in memory of John Perry Barlow.) We have a slight difference over emphasis, but I support their efforts (1) in favor of near-term privacy for citizens and (2) accountability for elites of government, commerce, wealth and police. 

It's just that beyond the near term, nothing will prevent those elites from seeing us... no laws or restrictions or technologies. Over the long run, it is #2 that will matter. If we have enough of that (accountability for all elites) then what they know about us cannot be used to actually harm us! 

What they do is more important than what they know.  And we can limit what they do to us only if they are naked to sousveillance.


Oh, but – “Purdue Engineering researchers have developed a system that can show what people are seeing in real-world videos, decoded from their fMRI brain scans — an advanced new form of  “mind-reading” technology that could lead to new insights in brain function and to advanced AI systems.” 

Ponder what that tool would mean to secret police in a future dystopia. It could empower Big Brother so that no resistance will ever be possible. Or else…

…if distributed to all, so that we can detect the lies of politicians or the mighty, such tools could empower us all to make sure that Big Brother happens… never.

== Obsessed with whether they might make us... buy stuff? ==

I'm going to race through a bunch of transparency/freedom related links, now. Hold on.

The Acuvate site asked 22 AI experts: “What is your prediction on how AI will impact the enterprise workplace?” And… well… yes, I came first. But go past and you’ll get some folks who know what they are talking about.

Many articles and words have been spouted over whether big net companies should be getting rich by mining “our information.”  This essay suggests that: “If Data is the New Oil, Are Tech Companies Robbing Us Blind?” Alas, the problem is obvious, while hand-wringers almost always leap to the wrong conclusions or proposed solutions. 

The handy, cheap cameras I’ve been describing and predicting for 25 years are here.

The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty, is a recent book by UCSD’s Benjamin H. Bratton, who suggests seven different regimes wherein planetary scale computing will affect our future —from energy and mineral sourcing and subterranean cloud infrastructure to urban software and massive universal addressing systems; from interfaces drawn by the augmentation of the hand and eye to users identified by self—quantification and the arrival of legions of sensors, algorithms, and robots. Together, how do these distort and deform modern political geographies and produce new territories in their own image? Bratton explores six layers of The Stack: Earth, Cloud, City, AddressInterface, User.

A sci-fi-ish disturbing video depicts near-future ubiquitous lethal autonomous weapons, or “slaughterbots.” Of  course, as always, the makers of the film point to a dangerous tech-possible trend… and prescribe rules to limit it, never considering the question of how those rules will apply to the worst and most deviously secretive forces in the world.


Watch the video! Be disturbed, as the makers intended!  Then watch it again and note that the evil deeds happen precisely because of asymmetry of light.  And the only solution… the only possible solution… is to concentrate on shining light on villains, including villainous elites. It is how we got the relative freedom and safety we have now!  It is the only way we can keep it.  See The Transparent Society: Will Technology Make Us Choose Between Privacy and Freedom?

Okay, it's hard keeping secrets in an open society. We must find ways to max out the advantages, while minimizing the hazards. And there will always be the unforeseen: Fitness tracking app gives away location of secret U.S. army bases.

== We may all need to be heroes ==

Back in the 1930s, my father, Herb Brin, infiltrated far right groups like the German American Bund.  Later, in his seventies, he boldly went to Aryan Nations compounds and demanded tours and interviews, knowing that their personality type would fall all over themselves to show him around. We have a web site dedicated to this noted journalist and poet, who sat with Hannah Arendt through the Eichmann Trials and covered some of the top events of our era.

Here’s a young journalist walking in those footsteps, infiltrating today’s lunatic fringe.

78 comments:

Alfred Differ said...

@winter7 | (carry-over from last thread)

Don’t worry about me hearing threats in your words that you don’t intend. I am more likely to err in the other direction. If you ever DO want to insult me, you will have to be explicit. My ego isn’t the size of a star, but it is a good match for a moderately sized terrestrial world. I’m not likely to believe an insult is intended because I think I’m such a great guy. 8)

Tyranny does make use of thugs. Yup. You might want to take a peek at F.A. Hayek’s book “The Road to Serfdom”. He lists all the steps of which yours is one of them. (I’m sure there is a Spanish translation out there somewhere.)

Tougher laws against acts of political hatred probably won’t work here. We tried to abolish alcohol once and discovered how a moderate percentage of folks who disagree can make a joke of the rule of law and then cause far more corruption than the original problem was worth. Some of us LOVE to get tribal, so the laws would be essentially unenforceable or worse… arbitrarily enforced.

We already have laws for dealing with thugs. We just have to be willing to enforce them. Punishments are already pretty bad too, so adding more and stiffening them probably won’t help either. The problem isn’t the lack of laws. It is the lack of consequences. (Juries decide many of these things.) The kind of consequences needed for political thuggery really have to come from voters, though. WE are the ones who deliver the ultimate consequences.


My brother learned Spanish and my sister is working at it. I never did and should be lashed for it. You may safely assume that I will initially attribute confusions between us to translation issues. Until YOU make it explicit or I draft my brother to help me, you get a strong benefit of the doubt. 8)

Alfred Differ said...

@locumranch | Treaties are enforced at the level of the Constitution. Look it up. That's the way it is supposed to work. You really should not be shocked when the Court says we have to honor them.

Abrogating treaties is the duty of the Executive when backed up (or ignored) by the Legislature. Without both, the Judiciary is within their powers to require enforce.

The Executive doesn't get to do whatever they want unless it involves a power specifically granted in the Constitution to them only.

(... and yes. I know how that sounds regarding Obama's executive orders.)

Robert said...

Here is an odd thought. If there are AI being used to create division and discord between humans on social media... then why not use some other AI to create harmony and lessen discord? Have an AI that seeks out these other AI and uses language to dissipate the effectiveness of the divisive language and have it keep seeking out that other AI to lessen its impact?

Essentially... an anti-Berserker.

Rob H.

Anonymous said...

Alfred Differ:
Thanks Alfred. Yes. You're a good person. And I have the subtlety of a camel.
And moving on to today's topic:
Alfred. You know a lot about programming. Maybe you have entered the business of virtual currencies?
I hope you are not investing in Bitcoins. Because I suspect that Bitcoins is a hoax. I think Bitcoins are not real. Of course, maybe I'm wrong. (Anyway, Bitcoins already have a price that is beyond reasonable) Who would want to buy imaginary Bitcoins at a huge price?
I believe that a virtual currency must have a silver equivalent stored in the banks. Well, ¿what supports the value of a Bitcoin? Nothing.
If Elon Musk creates virtual currencies and supports the value of those currencies with silver (that would come from already know which deposits) then, the virtual currencies of Elon Musk would become the currency more used of the world. (if the value of said currency does not exceed the value of one euro). By owning a virtual currency with real backing, Musk could become the richest man on the planet.

Winter7

Anonymous said...

Robert:
Yes. AIs could neutralize a Russian attack on Facebook and Twitter. And only an AI could react with the appropriate speed to repel an attack of thousands of Bots.
But that will only be possible if there is an AI programmer capable of creating appropriate conversational Bots. The next elections urgently need conversational Bots that can deal with the Russian Bots of the Republican Party.
But there is another option: prohibit Twitwer; Facebook; Instagram and other social media functions during the election period (even three months before) Only direct communication between family members and a few friends per person would be allowed. That way, the Russian Bots will not be able to contact the victims (the ordinary citizens of the whole world)
Winter7

locumranch said...


Madisen Avenue, Big Government, the White House Press Corps, the Mainstream Media & Disney:

All of these venues make the Falsification of Reality their Job #1, so it should come as no surprise to anyone that AI exists to specifically to fulfill this falsification function, so much so that the evidentiary value of any & all photographic, video or CCTV footage approaches zero.

So much for the whole purifying LIGHT aspect of surveillance & sousveillance.

WMDs, the CPI, the Gender Pay Gap, the Fraudulent Economic Recovery, the so-called Benefits of Outsourcing, Illegal Immigration & the Diversity Agenda:

These are lies, lies & more lies that only benefit our Intelligentsia & oligarchic overlords.

And, when we can NO longer believe the evidence of our own eyes, what can we believe in?

Absolutely nothing, except perhaps the purifying aspect of Blood & Iron.

On a side topic, it is interesting to note how Project Loon puts to lie a large part of our infrastructure debate, proving that decentralisation (rather than centralisation) is the technological way forward, and this applies to Big Government & Education as well as Da Evil Phone monopolies.


Best
_____

It's fascinating that our fine host, a self-identified libertarian, continues to ignore the issue of individual consent, arguing (as he does) that the Monolithic State has the authority to enforce unilateral involuntary contract requirements on an enslaved & subservient population, especially when a growing undocumented population willfully violates our transportation, residency, tax & identification laws under the protection of Sanctuary Cities. What a wonderful precedent !! What IF the Red States confer 'Sanctuary Status' upon themselves & declare themselves IMMUNE from all those pesky federal laws that the Blue States choose to ignore?? I suddenly feel very progressive.

@Alfred: Either the law applies to everyone or the law applies to no one. Why should you, I or anyone abide by unilateral law or punitive treaty that (1) applies only to us and (2) was created without either our consent or representation? Said the muck-covered peasant to the King of the Britons: "I didn't vote for you! "

Anonymous said...

It looks like they found Amelia Earhart. I thought that she had died of thirst, floating in the sea. But perhaps he died of thirst on the island, because on Nikumaroro Island there is no fresh water. And if she could not climb the coconuts, then she certainly died of thirst. A terrible death.
https://phys.org/news/2018-03-forensic-analysis-bones-amelia-earhart.html

Winter7

Anonymous said...

Locumranch:
Then put the wall, locumranch. It is your country. They have the right to prevent the access of narcotraffickers and gang members of the Mara Salvatrucha. But the wall has a huge cost, and it could be a deadly trap when the American people have to quickly escape the advance of the Red Army, which will most likely attack during the administration of the Manchurian clown. Because if you suppose that the Russians are going to miss this great opportunity (Manchurian agent in power) then it is because you do not know the Russians well.
Build the wall, locumranch. But let it be foundations twenty meters deep, because Mexicans are good at making tunnels. And since they are going to put the wall, they should use it as a support for solar collectors.
Winter7

Treebeard said...

Locum, I have a maxim that I apply to the entire human-created world of politics, culture, business, etc., which is this: "Everything is a lie." It rarely fails me. It's infinitely better than the converse, which is the maxim of the total sucker.

Winter7, you are a real hoot. Word to the wise old boy: "Red Dawn" was a movie (i.e. a lie), and the Red Army hasn't existed since 1946, nor the Soviet Army since 1991. The only way they're gonna attack during the Trump administration is if someone invents a time machine. Even as trolling, this is pretty low-grade stuff.

Alfred Differ said...

@winter7 | Heh. If bitcoins aren't real, then dollars and pesos aren't real either. Our money is what we imagine it to be. Even the folks who base every thing on silver and gold are imagining those metals will retain value. The only thing that really matters about money is that there must be someone who will take it off your hands in exchange for something you actually need. Whether the end purchase is food & water, a home, or an education, money is just the exchange medium.

So... bitcoins are real enough for me. I bought a little many years ago when they were trading at about $1,000. I watched them fall quickly and saw my tiny amount at risk cut in half. I decided to let them sit in an account to wait for a day when people decided either 1) they were entirely worthless or 2) they were the next tulip craze. I only had about the price of a dinner at risk, so I could afford to lose the rest. The recent craze was enough to get me to sell all of it for about 14x the price of a decent meal or the price of one very nice dinner. Heh. I'm not rich from it by any means, but it was fun. I prefer to work the equity and options markets for my more serious risks.

I keep two silver coins on my desk and occasionally on my person to remind me of the lunacies people imagine when they think about money. One is a US silver dollar that is almost 100 years old now. The other is a coin from your country that I won't be letting back into circulation. Together they remind me of the different paths each of us have taken through monetary history. Last time I was in Mexico, the peso traded at about 8 to 1 against the dollar. Not so any more and my brother grumbles about that since his investments are on your side of the border. Mine are mostly on my side. Different decisions based on different beliefs on each side have lead in very different ways, hmm?

Money is a debt instrument. It is like loan, but from no one in particular. As long as someone will make good on it to acquire the instrument from you, that's good enough to ensure it has value. Whether that involves an ounce of silver, a piece of paper, or a bunch of bytes backed by blockchain doesn't really matter. It's all in what you and the rest of us believe.

Alfred Differ said...

@locumranch | Why should you, I or anyone abide

...because the particular treaty you mentioned was negotiated by the rules and ratified by the Senate. Don't like it? Follow the rules and get it changed. Fail to do that and I'll use 'Illegitimate' for your attempt. Fail to do it and I'll say " That is very gray-kepi of you. "

There are a lot of things I put up with from people for whom I did not vote. I'm an American first, though. We have a system that works moderately well. It has its ugliness and warts, but it also has its elements sublime. You may not slash at it without being opposed.

Either the law applies to everyone or the law applies to no one.

This I can get behind, but you seem more interested in having no law apply to you than in having laws that apply to everyone. You REALLY oughta read Hayek on this subject. We CAN get laws that apply to everyone, but we have to agree first that we actually want that. Part of that is negotiating a way forward when we can't agree on something. How big does an agreement have to be before X happens? What about Y? It can be done, but only by people who actually want universal laws.

Alfred Differ said...

Treebeard | No doubt it feels good to be so right about the world, hmm?

Sounds a bit masochistic.
It's all a lie!
(Thank you for beating me. Shall I get the leather?)


yawn

Paul SB said...

Alfred,

I deeply doubt the people you chastise will actually understand what you wrote. Even if they can manage to parse it half way accurately, you know both will twist your words into the realm of the counterfactual. Both of them have gone way beyond the point where fact means anything to them, only which side you are on. Isn't it a defining feature of fascism that the leaders can decide what the truth is, regardless of actual facts? Newspeak or Fake News? The difference is ...

Paul SB said...

Bringing up the Clinton/Lewinski thing reminded me of seeing high-school age debate team members discuss the scandal and show clearly that in their youth they were much more clear-headed than their elders. Most people thought that the scandal was about sex - was the President a filthy, disgusting pervert - a fact which in many people's minds should disqualify him from office. The high-schoolers made the point that what really mattered was corruption - was Lewinsky given a plumb job for sexual services? This really shows that these older generations of moral purists never really made it out of the middle-school mentality. When I was that age, I thought that maybe voting rights should be restricted to those who pass some sort of psychological test of adult thought processes. Then I figured that it would go the way of other places where enforcement is lacking. Any moron can get a driver's license and kill people on the public roads, and police don't necessarily enforce laws when the victims are members of unfavored social groups (like my Jewish friend who called the police because church people were shooting through her windows at night, but the harassment didn't stop until she started shooting back at them). How do we enforce enforcement?

locumranch said...


Enforcement grows out of the barrel of gun [Mao]

Winter7 forgets that a Border Wall would be for Mexico's Benefit, not for ours, as it would serve to remind any possible transgressor of the enforcement consequences of trespass.

Personally, I argue that walls are like laws: Rather than constructing more of them, we simply need to enforce the laws we have, up to & including the use of deadly force as is the wont of government.

The motto of government is not & has never been 'protect & serve': It is 'either do what we say or we will kill you'.

This is how the Mexican Bureaucracy operates, ¿¿ No ??

As in Italy, the sociopolitical tide is turning in both the EU & US, and the Age of Touchy-Feely Appeasement is coming to end, and you make a logical error if you continue to abuse the generosity of your host.


Best
_____
@Alfred: California has set a new precedent of civil disobedience by acting out on their chant of 'Not my President', and the only people still obeying the law are suckers & marks. Can chants of 'Not my Senate' or 'Not my Government Agency' be far behind? As David suggests with his Project Loon reference, further decentralisation is both inevitable & technologically desirable, and soon (very soon) there will be thousands of Sheriff Arpaio's who will act locally with or without federal authorisation.

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

So... bitcoins are real enough for me. I bought a little many years ago when they were trading at about $1,000. I watched them fall quickly and saw my tiny amount at risk cut in half. I decided to let them sit in an account to wait for a day when people decided either 1) they were entirely worthless or 2) they were the next tulip craze. I only had about the price of a dinner at risk, so I could afford to lose the rest. The recent craze was enough to get me to sell all of it for about 14x the price of a decent meal or the price of one very nice dinner. Heh


While I agree that value is what we perceive it to be, you seem to be describing a speculative investment vehicle rather than what I think of as "money". In general, you don't spend bitcoins to buy food and such, you trade the bitcoins for dollars and then spend the dollars. All exceptions duly noted.

I'm not arguing that cryptocurrencies have "no value", and I agree with the point you made in that regard. But the value fluctuates way more than I would expect from a form of currency. It can pay off as an investment if you play it right, but that's not the same thing as what one generally does with dollars (again, all exceptions duly noted). Bitcoin is nothing like a stable store of value.

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:

Isn't it a defining feature of fascism that the leaders can decide what the truth is, regardless of actual facts? Newspeak or Fake News? The difference is ...


Trump's "Fake News" thing is a brilliant judo move, as the term was originally used during the campaign to describe factually-false "stories" made to appear as if they were legitimate news, and they were usually in Trump's favor (i.e., Pizzagate). Trump didn't like pro-Trump stories being referred to as "Fake News", so he started calling anti-Trump stories on CNN and other mainstream outlets "Fake News". His take managed to stick. But what he calls "Fake News" has nothing to do with whether it is accurate or not. If he doesn't like it, it's "Fake News". That simple.

I've been trying to counter the Trump/Nazi meme of lugenpresse with the term lugenpresident, which I thought was kinda clever. But I can see on Twitter that I was hardly first out of the gate with that one.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin in the main post:

Oh, but – “Purdue Engineering researchers have developed a system that can show what people are seeing in real-world videos, decoded from their fMRI brain scans — an advanced new form of “mind-reading” technology that could lead to new insights in brain function and to advanced AI systems.”


The link in the main post doesn't seem to point at the article you intended. I think this is the one you meant:

http://www.kurzweilai.net/researchers-watch-video-images-people-are-seeing-decoded-from-their-fmri-brain-scans-in-near-real-time


Ponder what that tool would mean to secret police in a future dystopia. It could empower Big Brother so that no resistance will ever be possible.


Of course that's what this sort of technlogy brings to mind, but the article doesn't seem to describe something that scary. They can decode what you are looking at, which is a far cry from decoding what you are thinking of, and even further from decoding something you are planning with intent.

Sci-fi aside, I have a very hard time imagining a mechanical device being able to visually show an image that I am thinking of in my own head such that incriminating details can be discerned. I can just barely imagine something like the tech in the article being able to show (for example) that I am fantasizing about a blurry sex partner. But being able to resolve the image's face well enough to distinguish my wife from a celebrity from an ilicit affair? I don't see how that would work. Let alone it being able to distinguish harmless fantasy from intent to cheat.

In the Big Brother scenario, using mind-reading to detect resistance to the government and such, what exactly would the machine reveal is in my head? A big sign reading "DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER"? A room full of fellow conspirators with faces clearly identifiable? I'm not doubting the ability of technology to read and interpret impulses in the brain, but it doesn't seem to me that what's in the brain so easily translates to a tv picture the way it does in sci-fi comics.

Point being, I'm not as worried about that tech as I might be.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin in the main post:

Back in the 1930s, my father, Herb Brin, infiltrated far right groups like the German American Bund. Later, in his seventies, he boldly went to Aryan Nations compounds and demanded tours and interviews, knowing that their personality type would fall all over themselves to show him around. We have a web site dedicated to this noted journalist and poet, who sat with Hannah Arendt through the Eichmann Trials and covered some of the top events of our era.


From the article about your dad--I did a double-take on this line before chuckling at its amusing irony, given the context of the piece. Bold emphasis is my own.


Here he is seen in the 1960s introducing his three sons, (l. to r.) David, Daniel and Stan, to singer/actor Pat Boone (far right).

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin might be too classy to explicitly shill for the book about his father, but just this simple blurb makes me hungry to learn more:

http://www.davidbrin.com/herbbrin/autobiography.html


This memoir of Herb Brin reveals a truly unique American life, the story of a courageous journalist, publisher, and poet, who was a tireless fighter, both for his people and for justice.

Born in 1915 to a poor Chicago family of immigrants from Poland and Russia, Herb became a gangland reporter in 1930s Chicago, served as an army reporter during World War II, then covered top stories for the Los Angeles Times, before starting Heritage Jewish press, a chain of community papers spanning Southern California.

As an investigative reporter, he first broke the story of the heroism of Oskar Schindler. Herb also covered the Eisenhower-Khrushchev summit, as well as the historic trials of Nazis Adolph Eichmann and Klaus Barbie, After a visit to Moscow, he first sounded the alarm about endangered Soviet Jews and was near Robert Kennedy the night he was shot.

Herb was a world renowned poet, publishing five books of poetry, several of them with forewords by Nobel prize winner Elie Weisel. His anecdotes are sure to amuse, amaze and inspire.


David Brin said...

Thanks LarryHart. Herb was one of the most remarkable humans I ever met. Absolutely determined to use his prodigious talent, daily, to help prevent humanity's slip back down to monstrous horror.

As for our Yawnworthy-dee and Yawnworthy-dumb, they are now yammering that the vast majority of their fellow citizens... in direct proportion to how thoughtful they are and the more they know... are in a Grand Conspiracy(!) against the enraged, ignorant and stupid.

Hmmm... well... when THEY say it, it sounds like just more jibber-jabber by pathetic, mewling ingrates.

But the way I just put it... well... there's actually something to it!
We ARE conspiring!
Not against them, but against their voluptuously masturbatory, willfully harmful and utterly disproved delusions. Delusions they cheerfully admit -- avow! -- to be lethal to our children.

Treebeard said...

"Fighting for his people"? Your father sounds like a good tribalist. The thing is, we don't live in 1942; today whites are under genocidal threat in South Africa (the throat of "whiteness" must be cut, according to a leader there, which sounds similar to the rhetoric coming from leftists here) and being invaded and deprecated in our homelands. So we, too, are "fighting for our people". We are also fighting those among us (the "diseased limb" faction) who brand their own kind, uniquely, as evil for doing so.

LarryHart said...

The latest from Jim Wright (Stonekettle Station) :

http://www.stonekettle.com/


...
Why Brad?

Why pick on Brad Loomis, pro-golfer, regular Joe, gun advocate?

Because Brad chose to make an example of himself.

Because Brad is a metaphor for a larger problem. Because, in thumbnail, this is the entire problem with guns in America.

This, right here, is the entire problem with the Second Amendment.

The utter failure to take responsibility.

And that, my friends, is no accident.

That’s negligence on a national scale.

locumranch said...


This just in from the BBC regarding Climate Change:

Climate change 'impacts women more than men'
http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-43294221

To which I reply, "Let them fix it".

#NotMyProblem

Best

Alfred Differ said...

@Paul SB | I deeply doubt the people you chastise will actually understand what you wrote

Agreed. I'm not writing to convince them of my way of seeing things. When you see a wee-hours timestamp on a comment from me, there is a decent chance I'm burning off a few thoughts before going to bed. My own inclination to snark comes out at that time. 8)

I was mostly responding to winter7, but I had too much iced tea in me from late in the day. I was still too caffeinated, so I had a little fun. 8)

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart | There are some who will take bitcoin in exchange directly. Even I'll do it, but I might use spot prices and exchange them to another currency quickly depending on what is happening in the markets.

Money doesn't seem like a speculative investment, but maybe that is because the trauma of the 70's inflation era doesn't have the strength in your memory it used to have? Cash is like any other product when it comes to this. It's value CAN change up or down relative to other stuff you want. Sometimes it can change fast.

Inflation isn't just a problem in principle. It is a problem that shakes people's confidence in the markets. How many wheelbarrows of worthless cash do you need for a loaf of bread tomorrow? It happens. Take a peek at how the folks in Venezuela are coping right now and you'll find crypto-currencies working the job of a black-market currency. History is full of examples where silver got hoarded and the peasants resorted to informal currencies to trade.

I'm a big fan of people using multiple currencies as they choose. Doing so helps stabilize all of them. Doing so discourages some of the abuses powerful people inflict on everyone else. As long as the market for trading between currencies exists (white or black version), I encourage it.

Alfred Differ said...

@locumranch | California has set a new precedent of civil disobedience

New precedent my ass. We aren't shooting at you yet.
Due Process and Equality Under The Law still mean something here.


Besides, we aren't monolithic.
You are pretending we are.

locumranch said...


Pffft!! Due Process and Equality Under which Laws, Alfred?? Most certainly, NOT federal immigration laws. Not criminal law when undocumented aliens packing illegal firearms can randomly slaughter women on Fisherman's Wharf without even a manslaughter conviction. Not the transit authority's decision NOT to prosecute certain protected minorities because 'it would be racially insensitive". NOT the federal injunction against States negotiating international treaties directly with foreign governments. It's berry picking, plain & simple, coupled with the type of Reverse Discrimination outlawed by the Bakke Decision.

California, Uber Alles, California Uber Alles!!

Best

A.F. Rey said...

Not criminal law when undocumented aliens packing illegal firearms can randomly slaughter women on Fisherman's Wharf without even a manslaughter conviction.

Are you referring to that vicious illegal alien, who committed pre-meditated murder by picking up a policeman's lost gun and taking careful aim at a concrete pier to shoot a woman in cold blood? Yeah, you gotta wonder how the jury ever decided there any were mitigating circumstances that made it look like an accident.

But, that's America. Some people just refuse to look at the facts... ;)

David Brin said...

"let them fix it"

Even if this were remotely sane -- (YOU are harming them, putz; so they have a tort grievance against you for that harm) -- it's remarkable as to what he confesses... that fear-drenched confederates have very short horizons of inclusion. Not humanity, not America, not his generation, not even race. All who aren't him are enemy others.

By all medical definitions, it is pathological. But alas, the logical faculties are affected, too.

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

LarryHart | There are some who will take bitcoin in exchange directly. Even I'll do it, but I might use spot prices and exchange them to another currency quickly depending on what is happening in the markets.
...
I'm a big fan of people using multiple currencies as they choose. Doing so helps stabilize all of them. Doing so discourages some of the abuses powerful people inflict on everyone else. As long as the market for trading between currencies exists (white or black version), I encourage it.


I think we're making two separate points here. They relate to each other, but they are not the same thing.

You might take bitcoin in exchange for goods or services, but I'll bet you'd have to check what bitcoin is worth at that moment in order to decide on how many bitcoins you would settle for. You don't see a store shelf--metaphorical or otherwise--with prices listed in bitcoin.

Two years back, I traveled in Denmark and Germany (saw many Brin books on bookstore shelves in both German and English language versions). On the ferry across the Baltic, there were cafeterias and shops with prices listed in Euros, Danish Kroner, and Sweedish Kroner. I can understand that, which is what you are describing with multiple currencies.

Bitcoin, to me, is a different animal. It may have been conceived as an alternative to dollars, euros, and yuan, but I don't see it functioning that way in the present moment. People who favor bitcoin talk about how quickly it can go way up in value, which is a good thing if you get that benefit, but that's not how currency works.

Now, I know you mention investments in national currencies too, but isn't that a game for people who hold onto cash long enough to play the market? They're not using that cash to buy diapers or milk or cat food. When they get a paycheck, they know approximately how far that paycheck will take them in their monthly budget. That the same dollars might buy considerably less a year or ten from now isn't the main concern. If their paycheck was in bitcoin and the prices at the store and the pump were in bitcoin, those prices would not be stable enough to budget for the short term.

That's what I mean when I say bitcoin is not (currently) a stable store of value, but a speculative investment. People buy bitcoin hoping (and maybe expecting) that it will increase in value, not because they think the bitcoin itself is something that permits them access to groceries or hair styling or beer.

I'm not saying you can't do well trading in bitcoin. I'm just saying it's not what I consider "currency" as we tend to think of that term. It might eventually become that, but it isn't now.

Personally, I think bitcoin has to eventually fail, not for socio-economic reasons, but structurally. It seems to me that there's a built in limit on how long the blockchain can become before it becomes unwieldy to use at all. That's something I've seen no one discuss except myself, and I'm not expert in the technology, but I'd love to hear someone explain why that's not the case, because to me, it seems self-evident.

LarryHart said...

@Dr Brin and @Alfred and @Paul SB and many others,

You're making it awfully hard to keep my Lent promise to give up reading deplorables. But if I could stick with giving up comic books and elevators as I did in past years, I can stick with this one in my sleep.

And no, I'm not Catholic. Lent is just a personal challenge for me.

:)

Anonymous said...

Locumranch:
“As in Italy, the sociopolitical tide is turning in both the EU & US, and the Age of Touchy-Feely Appeasement is coming to end, and you make a logical error if you continue to abuse the generosity of your host.”
¿Do you say that I am abusing the generosity of my host? ¿What do you mean? ¿You say I said something that bothered Brin? ¿What was it?
Winter7

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart | It's not Lent if it isn't a challenge. 8)

No. I'm not Catholic either, I suppose. I was baptized that way, but I find the Lent notion rather silly. There are already a lot of challenges in life. As long as I examine them and recognize them in others, I'm content not to add more.

Alfred Differ said...

@locumranch | There is this little thing called a jury trial. If a prosecutor doesn't think they can convince a jury to convict, it doesn't matter what YOU think should get charged.

Our system is arranged so some of the guilty get away to ensure we aren't over-zealous in prosecuting the innocent. It takes more than proof. It requires convincing a jury.

Don't like it? Do you imagine yourself as a one-man jury for us all?

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart | For some things I would spot check the exchange rates. For some other things I would not. It all depends on how much I wanted a particular real price. If I'm doing a yard sale getting rid of some old books, I'll want something, but I doubt I'll be all that price sensitive. Getting anything would probably be enough.

As for the people you are listening too, sure... they are speculators. If you swam with the sharks, though, you'd hear the folks who speculate with the regular currencies. It's not so much the 'thing' being traded. It's the trader's attitude that matters. Most of us who trade regular currencies are 'buy and hold' investors at heart. If the asset retains value in a variety of economic conditions, it can be used as a kind of money. Those things are much more numerous than national currencies, though. For example, your checking account is a slightly different kind of money than your savings account and different again from CD's. They are all pretty good at retaining value.

Then there are the traders, day traders, swing/momentum nuts, brokerage traders, and the algorithmic traders. For bitcoin, you were probably listening to the momentum folks. I think they are a little nutty, but that's not really fair. A price for anything depends on a balance of buyers and sellers. If there is imbalance, it's foolish not to ponder that at least a little bit. When I original bought bitcoin, I KNEW there was a tulip craze going on, so I only risked what I could entirely lose. I bought too late and lost half of it quickly. No problem, I thought. I can lose the rest of wait for the next craze... which came along. I bought at $1000, watched it fall to $450 or so, ignored it a few years, and then was surprised when some TV commentator said it was at $7000. I sold immediately, so that made me a 'buy and hold' guy mildly tempted to surf the swings.

With all investments, though, it is best to keep a spare pair of underpants around. Things can change fast including your cherished national currencies.

LarryHart said...

Winter7:

“As in Italy, the sociopolitical tide is turning in both the EU & US, and the Age of Touchy-Feely Appeasement is coming to end, and you make a logical error if you continue to abuse the generosity of your host.”

¿Do you say that I am abusing the generosity of my host?


I'd guess he's saying that native Americans are getting tired of the abuses of illegal immigrants from Europe. But I wouldn't bet the rent on that. :)

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

Things can change fast including your cherished national currencies.


To mangle Humphrey Bogart, "They're not exactly my beloved currencies." If you knew me on the internet 20 years ago, you'd have seen me lamenting that I hadn't had the foresight to trade dollars for British pounds, Euros, or even Canadian dollars in advance of the inflation of the USD and the collapse of the American economy, both of which seemed imminent. I've changed my mind over time because the dollar and the economy seem incredibly resilient. That's not to say my earlier fears won't eventually come true, but I'm hard pressed to bet that way for the foreseeable future. Especially if the economy survives Trump.

Note, I'm not singing the praises of "national currencies" in general. It's the dollar in particular that seems resilient.

You've talked about examples of people who treat currencies as investments, and I'm not really arguing about that. But I've yet to see anyone do the opposite--get a paycheck in bitcoin and then use it for day-to-day expenses. Until bitcoin can be used that way, I don't think of it as "currency". I'm not doubting that it can function as an investment that leads to wealth, but its utility seems limited to what you can do with the currency that you eventually trade it in for.

Changing topics...


I find the Lent notion rather silly. There are already a lot of challenges in life.


It started with me during my college years, when I knew many Catholics who were half-hearted about giving something up--almost always chocolate--and then not keeping to it. It was like, "Look, I don't even have to do this, but I can. I'm a better Catholic than you are." It evolved into a kind of personal challenge. I'm not all that great at self-denial, so it was kinda like a way of proving to myself that I can stay the course if I put my mind to it. I really did give up elevators one year, and that involved at least one walk up 25 floors of stairs to my grandmother's assisted-living apartment.

Robert said...

Heres a small question for the 2nd Amendment folks that I originally posted over on Facebook.

It is our Constitutional Right to be able to vote.

In the Constitution, Amendment XV states: Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.
Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

There are additional amendments setting the voting age to 18, allowing women the right to vote, and on down the line.

Yet Conservatives have absolutely no problem insisting on Voter ID system. They insist on measures proving someone is a U.S. citizen in order to vote, and if someone does not have a Voter ID card in states requiring it, they can be turned away. If their name has been purged from the system, they can be turned away. In short, despite the Constitutional Right to vote which has multiple amendments insisting that you cannot deny someone the right to vote... Conservatives keep finding ways to refuse this Democratic Right.

So why the fuck do these same Conservatives turn around and insist that the 2nd Amendment cannot require Gun Owner ID cards, gun registration, gun restrictions, and on down the line? They already are insisting that another Constitutional Right be denied to plenty of people... who just so happen to be poor minorities.

BTW, the NRA back nearly 100 years ago was all for restricting gun ownership to only white men. Even now when blacks and other minorities are denied their right to bear arms, they shut up and look the other way. Funny that.

So then. If States and the Federal Government have the legal ability to regulate your ability to vote... then does it not have the legal ability to regulate your right to bear arms? If you insist that gun control legislation is not allowed because of the Constitution... then likewise there should not be any legislation for Voter ID systems or the like.

Rob H.

Anonymous said...

LarryHart:
Haa. That's. Thanks for the clarification. In any case, locumranch has the right to be afraid of the avalanche of illegal immigrants.
I am not opposed to the Americans building the wall.
Certainly some immigrants are a big problem. For example, I learned that in Germany, Arab immigrants raped many women in a very widespread fact in the media. And recently, also in Germany, an immigrant murdered his girlfriend, a teenager. In my city, near where the train tracks are, some immigrants raped a girl and then ripped off her face with a construction block. I think Grandma found her still alive. It seems that the grandmother had a strong feeling that something had happened to the girl, and set out to look for her with the help of another child. (another proof that human brains sometimes have a quantum connection with other brains).
But Donald Trump's method of solving the problem is not only brutal and inhuman, but also very inefficient. Also, I do not think the situation improves. I think Donald is going to become more cruel and sadistic. And as they say in my country: When the dog is violent, even the owners bite. (I have adapted the saying, because the translation is incorrect) Therefore, it is foreseeable that Donald will begin to act with violence against some factions of US citizens.
Is not it strange how everything tends to get irretrievably complicated? (I mean the world outside of the US borders)

In spanish:

LarryHart.
Haa. Eso es. Gracias por la aclaración. En todo caso, locumranch tiene derecho a sentir temor de la avalancha de inmigrantes ilegales.
No me opongo a que los norteamericanos construyan el muro.
Ciertamente algunos inmigrantes son un gran problema. Por ejemplo, me enteré de que en Alemania inmigrantes árabes violaron a muchas mujeres en un hecho muy difundido en los medios de comunicación. Y hace poco, también en Alemania, un inmigrante asesinó a su novia, una adolecente. En mi ciudad, cerca de donde están las vías del tren, unos inmigrantes violaron una niña y después le arrancaron el rostro con un block de construcción. Creo que la abuela la encontró todavía con vida. Parece ser que la abuela tuvo un fuerte presentimiento de que algo le había ocurrido a la niña, y se puso a buscarla con la ayuda de otro niño. (otra prueba de que los cerebros humanos en ocasiones tienen una conexión cuántica con otros cerebros).
Pero el método de Donald Trump para resolver el problema, no solo es brutal e inhumano, sino que además es muy ineficaz. Además, no creo que la situación mejore. creo que Donald va a volverse más cruel y sádico. Y como dicen en mi país: Cuando el perro es violento, hasta a los dueños muerde. (he adaptado el dicho, porque la traducción es incorrecta) Por lo cual, es previsible que Donald comenzará a actuar con violencia contra algunas facciones de los ciudadanos estadounidenses.
¿No es extraño cómo todo tiende a complicarse irremediablemente? (me refiero al mundo fuera de las fronteras estadounidenses)

Anonymous said...

Ho, forget to put my name to the previous message:

Winter7

sociotard said...

https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/08/politics/donald-trump-kim-jong-un/index.html

You know what, I'm going to make a pledge:
If Donald Trump
1) Follows through with negotiations (even if it doesn't result in NK giving up nukes; establishing dialogue suffices)
2) Does not attack NK, including a "bloody nose" strike.
3) Maintains the Iran deal
4) Doesn't let the Syrian civil war drag us into a new conflict with one of the participants (like Turkey or Russia)
5) Maintains relations with Cuba
6) Keeps his stupid trade war small
Bonus) Negotiates an end to the Yemeni conflict

I will vote for him in 2020. I will forgive his lies and sexual predation and killing Obamacare and the deficit-spiking tax cuts and I will vote for him.

Alfred Differ said...

Well... I'm opposed to a wall.

I live in a part of the US that was once part of Mexico. We are legally American, but culturally both. I find the wall to be a statement by one culture intended to reject the other. That is VERY un-American.

Yah. We do this rejection often, but we shouldn't sanctify it. A later generation is going to think we were really stupid about it.

Paul SB said...

Larry,

I don't really bother much with deplorables as it is, though I will read about them. My Lent - Guacamole. Tough, but I don't need all that fat, anyway. I'm using a lot more mustard instead.

Alfred Differ said...

sociotard,

That is setting the bar way too low for me to stomach voting for him. I expect a helluva lot more of a President than doing the minimum necessary to avoid killing people.

I don't like begging from my knees to get him not to do stupid stuff.

David Brin said...

SociotARD WAAAY TOO LOW A BAR.

...End the war on facts...
... Negotiates based on facts and national good without threatening to hurt people, as an opening bargaining position.
... Releases tax returns and all entanglements/emoluments...
... enforces anti-trust laws...
... Hangs Rupert Murdoch...

Yes, I would start listening...

Anonymous said...

¡ I told you! Those Russians have gone crazy:

https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/5756370/ex-russian-spy-sergei-skripal-daughter-yulia-zizzi-restaurant-poison-plot/


Winter7

Lloyd Flack said...

RE Rupert Murdoch,
The day he dies is the day that I open whatever is the best bottle of wine in my cellar at the time.

Paul SB said...

All those plus undoing the two most horrible things his administration has done to the nation: robbing the bottom half of the nation of healthcare and the tax bill that steals from the poor and gives to the rich. Yes, my tax return is more this year than usual, but I am capable of thinking past the next couple months of personal bank deposits. The tax bill gives everyone a break this year, but after that the cuts for the rich keep going while the other 90% get their taxes raised. If he was as smart as some people claim he is, he would have made those lower- and middle-class tax breaks last until he was running for re-election.

Oh, and how about replacing all the robber barons on his staff with people who actually believe in what they are doing, so they will do the right thing?

How about ditching all the racism and sexism, while he's at it? Sure, that will offend his base, but his base is as bad a gang of thieves as his cabinet. It might be a good idea to push for a Constitutional amendment that will explicitly define just who We the People are - not We the Upper-Crust Caucasian Males.

Lloyd,

If Murdoch (to say nothing of the Koch Brothers and thousands of other robber barons) dies fat and peacefully in his golden bed it will not serve justice. It's on the same level as putting the body of that pervert Billy Graham to lie in state at the White House. Meat hooks for all of them ... (no, I'm not annoyed by the travesty of justice that our nation has become, not in the least!)

Paul SB said...

Alfred,

These words will no doubt piss off at least 20% of the country:

"We are legally American, but culturally both. I find the wall to be a statement by one culture intended to reject the other. That is VERY un-American."

Fake patriots like to wave around flags from the backs of their pickup trucks, clueless to see that they are insulting the very flag they wave and all the generations of Americans who fought for our freedoms before them when they equate their nation with their ethnicity (and religion and sex as well). The Land of the Free, or the Land of the Hate?

BTW, I hope your iced tea was sugar free. Americans are far too inundated with the stuff. It has surprising effects on their brains that the undereducated are clueless about.

Paul SB said...

On the Fisherman’s Wharf shooting and reality armor, you see how our faux rancher gets all hot under the gills about a supposed murder when the forensic evidence proved that it was an accident. This is a problem of our age that can be illuminated with a little brain science as well as looking at the surgical features of context.

People have been commenting on just how divided and partisan America has been getting for quite a long time now, while scratching their heads in puzzlement. It’s not so puzzling when you combine the multiplying effects of a feedback loop with the Cold War assumption that the Market will make everything right.

Let’s start with the obvious: new media make more money when the stories they peddle frighten and/or anger people. Web sites and newspapers that tell heartwarming stories don’t get the advertising dollars. Politicians garner more votes when they frighten and/or anger people. Both of these forces spew out a whole lot of hateful propaganda in all of our faces.

Now let’s see what happens inside people who are exposed to a constant bombardment of negativity: anything that appears threatening to people - especially things that threaten a person’s social status (sociopaths excepted) results in the adrenal glands dribbling out adrenaline and cortisol, which have a huge raft of physiological effects. One of these is to grow more receptors in the amygdala (the brain structures that process fear and anger), which makes amygdalae more sensitive to future threats. This is how brains adapt to growing up in different environments. A person who grows up in a prosperous and happy society with attentive parents and few neighborhood threats and they grow up with a fairly copacetic set of reactions. But if they grow up in an environment full of threats they get caught in this feedback loop where they become increasingly over-reactive.

This feedback loop, if it is sustained, makes people pathologically paranoid and hyper-sensitive to threats, so much so that imaginary threats feel entirely really and deeply troubling to them. By that point they need an SSRI to stabilize their amygdalae, but the treatment is useless if they just go back to the same environment, the same echo chambers, and reactivate the same paranoid mental circuitry. About a third of mood disorder patients do not respond to medication after months of trying, and a major part of why is that they take their meds but keep thinking the same thoughts, the same friends and the same slanted news sources.

America, and much of the rest of the world, is experiencing a crisis of mental health, becoming increasingly pathological (and increasingly violent) as communication technology saturates us with yellow journalism, fear-mongering commercial advertising and lying/exaggerating politicians (on all sides).

We think of our political opponents as enemies, but what they really are is mental breakdowns waiting to happen.

LarryHart said...

Winter7:

Thanks for the clarification. In any case, locumranch has the right to be afraid of the avalanche of illegal immigrants.


Well, my sense is that he's not just concerned with illegal immigrants, but immigrants in general, and even citizens whose national or racial origins don't resemble his own. The xenophobes always portray the issue metaphorically as "What would you do if an intruder camped out in your house?", but that precisely misses the point. Legal immigrants are not intruders. Citizens whose race or ethnicity doesn't match your own are not intruders. America is their house too. We're not supposed to have a two-tiered system where some citizens are more equal than others.


I am not opposed to the Americans building the wall.


Trump's wall is symbolic. It's a way of saying "We're doing something!", but a very expensive and inefficient way at that. Most illegal immigration does not involve crossing the southern border. People come into the country legally as visitors, overstay their visas, and fall off of anyone's radar. A wall won't prevent that from happening.


Certainly some immigrants are a big problem. For example, I learned that in Germany, Arab immigrants raped many women in a very widespread fact in the media. And recently, also in Germany, an immigrant murdered his girlfriend, a teenager. In my city, near where the train tracks are, some immigrants raped a girl and then ripped off her face with a construction block. I think Grandma found her still alive.


Granted, but for every horrific crime you can find committed by an immigrant, you can find ten such crimes committed by people who have every right to be here. To mangle the NRA mantra, immigrants don't kill people; criminals do. There were all sorts of celebrity serial killing cases in the 1970s and 1980s--John Gacy and Jeffrey Dahmer leap immediately to mind--which had nothing to do with immigration. A few years back, there were something like 355 mass shootings, and because two of them (San Bernardino and Orlando) were committed by Muslims, there was all sorts of hysteria over the danger posed by Muslims. Had we deported all Muslims before that year, there would only have been 353 mass shootings. Is that really addressing the problem?

Not to mention that the two Muslims in question were US Citizens, so an immigrant ban wouldn't have caught them anyway.

LarryHart said...

Lloyd Flack:

RE Rupert Murdoch,
The day he dies is the day that I open whatever is the best bottle of wine in my cellar at the time.


That's how I felt about Jerry Fallwell and Roger Ailes. But the thing is, all these people die way too late. If they were like Mr. Myxyzptlk and the effects of their pranks would somehow magically revert back to the old status quo, then your bottle of wine would be that much sweeter. But real life doesn't work that way.

LarryHart said...

sociotard:

If Donald Trump
...
I will vote for him in 2020.


Heh. I understand the sense of relief that President Snow might--just might--not destroy the country and life as we know it. However, it seems to me that you're experiencing Stockholm Syndrome.

I'd also be very careful not to reenact the final chapter of 1984. Remember what happens after "He loved Big Brother."

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:

BTW, I hope your iced tea was sugar free.


Sorry, but I like my iced tea to crunch when I bite into it.

:)

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:

Now let’s see what happens inside people who are exposed to a constant bombardment of negativity: anything that appears threatening to people - especially things that threaten a person’s social status (sociopaths excepted) ...


That's a point. People have asked what makes our country so much more violent than others. Some blame violent video games and movies, but others counter that all of those things are available in other countries, and some have even more violent versions than ours. But do other countries have an equivalent of FOX News and large swaths of population for whom such outlets are their primary source of information?

LarryHart said...

Something I don't get about the Trump Lawyer/Stormy Daniels issue:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/09/opinion/stormy-daniels-trump-cohen.html


On Jan. 22, the nonpartisan government watchdog group Common Cause filed complaints with the Federal Election Commission and the Department of Justice claiming that the $130,000 payment to Daniels constituted an in-kind contribution to Trump’s presidential campaign, in violation of federal campaign law.

In response, Cohen claimed that the payment was a private transaction that he was able to “facilitate” with his own personal funds. (It was made through a limited liability company Cohen created called Essential Consultants.) “Neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction with Ms. Clifford, and neither reimbursed me for the payment, either directly or indirectly,” Cohen said in a statement to The Times.


So that's a defense--that the lawyer ostensibly paid the porn star out of his own pocket and was not reimbursed by the Trump campaign.

How does that argument prevent the contribution from being regarded as a campaign donation? Doesn't that prove it was one? OTOH, if the campaign had reimbursed him, he could claim it was simply a short-term loan.

Never mind what you think about the issue itself, or whether the lawyer's defense is credible. I'm asking why what the lawyer claims leads to the conclusion everyone says it does rather than a different thing, in fact the opposite thing.

locumranch said...


https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/44266/mending-wall

"Good fences make good neighbours," said Robert Frost in his 'Mending Wall' in order to communicate that the recognition of individual (and/or interpersonal) boundaries denotes mutual respect.

Unfortunately, the modern progressive who despises interpersonal boundaries & attempts to erase them in the pursuit of their global de novo Religion of Equalism also despises & actively disrespects the individual insomuch as mutual respect cannot exist without the mutual recognition of boundaries.

"Psychological limits define personal dignity (and) boundaries are conscious and healthy ways to protect ourselves from emotional harm". Thus, walls & fences connote mutual respect, whereas the deliberate destruction of barriers & boundaries causes irreparable emotional damage to many individuals, increasing the likelihood of responsively violent self-protective outbursts, as in the case of 9/11 & every school shooting.

By erasing cultural boundaries with instantaneous satellite communications & hypersexualised Hollywood propaganda, the West actually precipitated 9/11 by actively attacking the Middle East by disrespecting Muslim cultural barriers, just as similar attacks on interpersonal masculine boundaries (perpetuated by West's progressive educational curriculum) tend to generate a violent response from certain emotionally-stunted males.

Your meddling anti-boundary progressive ideologies are the direct cause school shootings everywhere.

Likewise, my personal detachment (and the increasing detachment of my personal cohort) represents a healthy self-protective emotional response rather than a 'pathology' as David snidely suggests, even as he damns me as a deplorablely irresponsible evil white male who represents everything he hates.

Emotional detachment, #NotMyProblem and ZFG are perhaps the healthiest emotional response to the relentless progressive attack on masculine ego integrity -- as opposed suicidal outbursts, random violence & nationalist posturing -- and both Progressivism & Climate Change amelioration are doomed to fail until they understand this basic facet of human psychology.

https://www.chabad.org/parshah/article_cdo/aid/2284/jewish/Boundaries.htm

To quote the Talmudic take on the importance of boundaries:

"The Torah's concept of "peace" is not the indiscriminate fusion of the diverse components of G‑d's world, but a regulated integration in which boundaries are respected and the individual qualities of the integrated entities are preserved".

Now, Bite My Shiny Metal Arse.

Best

Berial said...

@LarryHart said, "People have asked what makes our country so much more violent than others."

Is the United States actually more violent than other countries, or are we simply more lethal?

The biggest difference that I remember seeing about most such studies, is that American crime is MUCH more likely to involve a gun and therefore MUCH MUCH more likely to result in death or severe injury. When it comes to our crime and mass shootings it really is mostly the availability of guns that makes us exceptional.

Alfred Differ said...

@Paul SB | …no doubt piss off at least 20% of the country

No doubt. I will admit to enjoying that fact to some degree. I have a nephew and a niece both serving our nation right now (Navy Reserves and Air Force active duty if I recall correctly) who could also be at home among their relatives south of the border. My brother married across one of those cultural borders on which fools would erect a barrier and now his children serve. My position on immigration, therefore, is understandably biased by evidence within my own extended family. So [ahem] I admit to an inclination toward righteous indignation when they want to harm us.

Regarding iced tea, it is sugar free. I used to drink sodas by the bucket. When large cups from the days when I was a kid are called small today, I refer to the new large ones as buckets. I used to do that and wonder why I couldn’t lose any weight. Duh. I began a switch to iced tea and suffered what felt like withdrawal symptoms. (Yup. Understanding the brain better now helps explain all that.) I waffled for a while and even tried diet sodas, but the sweet taste of sugar wanna-bees just made me miss the sugar more. When I spent time in Charlotte I got to know sweet-tea, but California isn’t into that much. Finding it here usually means purchasing it in a bottle and that is expensive and leaves me drinking the lame teas Americans tolerate. Enough years have passed now that I’m not suffering the sugar withdrawals anymore and I get to drink tea that actually tastes like it wasn’t swept up off the floor. If I’m not making my own, I pay attention to the brew’s pedigree. I’m much happier (and probably more caffeinated) as a result.

Drinking black tea is like drinking red wine. Which kind is it? 8)

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

I used to drink sodas by the bucket. ... I used to do that and wonder why I couldn’t lose any weight. Duh. I began a switch to iced tea and suffered what felt like withdrawal symptoms.


From the sugar or from the caffeine? Caffeinated iced tea could help with the latter problem. But then I like mine sugared, so whatever.


I waffled for a while and even tried diet sodas, but the sweet taste of sugar wanna-bees just made me miss the sugar more.


I've always been hesitant to put artificial sweeteners in my body, and from what I've heard, they don't satisfy the taste for sugar anyway. What you say sounds correct. When I drink sugar, I don't just want the taste--I want the energy boost. Sugar that tastes like something else would make more sense than something else that tastes like sugar.


When I spent time in Charlotte I got to know sweet-tea, but California isn’t into that much. Finding it here usually means purchasing it in a bottle and that is expensive


McDonalds serves sweet tea now. And it is really effing sweet. I never thought I would ever say something was too sweet for me to handle, but they sure showed me a thing or two.


Enough years have passed now that I’m not suffering the sugar withdrawals anymore and I get to drink tea that actually tastes like it wasn’t swept up off the floor.


My sister-in-law is from India, so I've known the difference between Darjeeling and English Breakfast tea for a long time now. Separately and coincidentally, my wife has stomach trouble with coffee, so she drinks a lot of tea, and she isn't satisfied with just plain Lipton. Even though I do drink coffee (but only in the mornings), the women in my life have introduced me to quite a bit of tea.

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart | Withdrawal for me involved the sugar. I noticed the caffeine reduction with the usual headaches, but that is easy enough to understand. When your capillaries dial back out and your body demands the water it needs (caffeine is a diuretic), headaches are just one of the symptoms. They don’t last long if you know what the signals mean and deal with them.

My sugar intake reduction was harder to address, but well worth the effort. In the thick of my diet that followed I could taste the sugar in all sorts of other things. Milk is sweet. Cheese is too. Bread… well… carb reduction was part of my diet, so bread practically gave me a high. Bread with extra sugar in it, though, made me feel like my head wanted to explode. 8)

There are different kinds of ‘sweet’, but we overload our sense of taste so much that it’s hard to detect the subtleties. Lactose isn’t sucrose which isn’t fructose and so on. I’m now of the opinion that if I can’t tell the difference when I taste something sweet, I’m taking in way too much sugar of some type… probably corn syrup from some food type to which I’m not paying enough attention.

Now if I drink fully sugared sodas, I get a little dizzy. I know what high blood sugar does to one’s ability to think (one co-worker is diabetic and lost control for a while), so I recognize the signs. Also, part of my path to recovery in early 2014 involved high doses of prednisone. I got a direct glimpse of what it is like to live as a diabetic. No more. I’d like to live a while longer without having to manually control my insulin level.

Alfred Differ said...

@locumranch | de novo Religion of Equalism

It isn't 1am, so I'm not going to stoop to your level right now. Maybe tonight.

I don't mind if you find cultural differences uncomfortable. I won't push you into accepting them all into your home. I will object, however, if you act to prevent me accepting them into my home.

I'll defend you from progressives trying to push you too hard.
I'll fight you if you push against me and my family from doing what comes natural to us.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Brin. When you were talking about videos and photographs becoming unusable as evidence; I believe that the credibility in false videos is proportional to the degree of education that the population of a country has. For example, in Latin America, a fake video circulating on Twitter and Facebook could be taken very seriously. Even judges in Latin America would take the false videos as irrefutable evidence and make judgments based on it, although I do not rule out that after someone who was defamed, they could use experts to analyze the fake video and prove their innocence. But most people in Latin America can not afford the fees of an expert. Even worse. Possibly the victim will think that the video is real, but that it is a person similar to him.
And recently, I saw an article that talked about an application for YouTubers that allows the creator of videos to use the cell phone and pretend that it is on a battlefield or at a convention of some political party, because expensive software is no longer necessary and a green background to perform the chroma key trick. Now, you just select (I think you can use a background video) and when you videotape yourself, the youtuber seems to be anywhere: the moon; Mars, etc.
Now, we need a software that automatically analyzes a video or photo and tells us if it is false, showing the areas of pixel splicing, and the contradictions in the quality of image definition in different areas of a video and photo. Or we are finished.
Who the hell creates software capable of messing up millions of innocent people? Should I suppose that the creators of the software for trick videos had good intentions?

The software that I think you were referring to, seems to be the one described in the following link:

https://phys.org/news/2018-03-ai-fake-porn-revenge-complicated.html

Winter7

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

There are different kinds of ‘sweet’, but we overload our sense of taste so much that it’s hard to detect the subtleties. Lactose isn’t sucrose which isn’t fructose and so on.


You're in danger of sounding like Hawkeye did that episode where he stopped drinking and then had to keep talking about everything he notices now that he's off the sauce.

:)


Now if I drink fully sugared sodas, I get a little dizzy. I know what high blood sugar does to one’s ability to think (one co-worker is diabetic and lost control for a while), so I recognize the signs.


I'm borderline diabetic myself, although it's well under control with a low dosage of oral medicine. No insulin shots for me. As a result, the only symptoms I've ever felt have been those of low blood sugar, when I eat too little after taking a dose of medicine.

Russell Osterlund said...

This article paints the picture that Putin was playing 3-D chess while Obama was playing checkers with one hand tied behind his back during the 2016 campaign season:

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/stand-down-how-the-obama-team-blew-the-response-to-russian-meddling_us_5aa29a97e4b086698a9d1112

We were so screwed.

Duncan Cairncross said...

The problem is that the Dems will continue to play by the rules!

So Obama was not willing to expose the Donald during the presidential campaign

The same as the Dems did not put Nixon, Reagan, Bush 2 and hordes of other Republicans in jail after they committed crimes
And in Nixon and Reagan's case those crimes were treating with an enemy - as in shooting enemy - of the USA for their own personal benefit and to the detriment of US military personnel

The Dems have got to learn and put these criminals away - the ones that have died should be tried in absentia

Anonymous said...

Alfred Differ; LarryHart:
The leaves of cow paw (Bauhinia forficata) lower the level of sugar in the blood. Also, it is not toxic. The tree is a giant legume. The seeds are edible and in some countries the tender leaves are eaten.
Just in case, here is a study on the toxicity of the cow's foot:
Evaluation of toxicity after one-months treatment with Bauhinia forficata decoction in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats
• Maria Teresa PepatoEmail author,
• Amanda Martins Baviera,
• Regina Célia Vendramini and
• Iguatemy Lourenço Brunetti
BMC Complementary and Alternative MedicineThe official journal of the International Society for Complementary Medicine Research (ISCMR)20044:7
https://doi.org/10.1186/1472-6882-4-7
© Pepato et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2004
Received: 10 December 2003
Accepted: 08 June 2004
Abstract
Background
Previous experiments have shown that a decoction of Bauhinia forficata leaves reduces the changes in carbohydrate and protein metabolism that occur in rats with streptozotocin-induced diabetes. In the present investigation, the serum activities of enzymes known to be reliable toxicity markers were monitored in normal and streptozotocin-diabetic rats to discover whether the use of B. forficata decoction has toxic effects on liver, muscle or pancreas tissue or on renal microcirculation.
Methods
An experimental group of normal and streptozotocin-diabetic rats received an aqueous decoction of fresh B. forficata leaves (150 g/L) by mouth for 33 days while a control group of normal and diabetic rats received water for the same length of time. The serum activity of the toxicity markers lactate dehydrogenase, creatine kinase, amylase, angiotensin-converting enzyme and bilirubin were assayed before receiving B. forficatadecoction and on day 19 and 33 of treatment.
Results
The toxicity markers in normal and diabetic rats were not altered by the diabetes itself nor by treatment with decoction. Whether or not they received B. forficata decoction the normal rats showed a significant increase in serum amylase activity during the experimental period while there was a tendency for the diabetic rats, both treated and untreated with decoction, to have lower serum amylase activities than the normal rats.
Conclusions
Administration of an aqueous decoction of B. forficata is a potential treatment for diabetes and does not produce toxic effects measurable with the enzyme markers used in our study.

Winter7

Alfred Differ said...

winter7 | Thank you for the research, but my libertarian attitude rules here too. If I can leave something be and it takes care of itself, I prefer that. Ditching the sugar and carbs that makes so many of my fellow Americans obese is the right thing to do. Carbs are still a huge challenge for me, but I know how to do it at least. My former excesses with sugar I can deal with now.

As long as I'm not broken (yet), I've got a body 'designed' by hundreds of millions of years for dealing with sugars properly. I'll rely upon it first and foremost because there aren't many other features within me that are that ancient. [Maybe the management of iron? That's working okay too now that my immune system isn't attacking me.] 8)

David Brin said...

Russell Osterlund, we are screwed… but primarily because we are so easily misled into stylish gloom. Uh, let’s see who’s the great “chessmaster”? A fellow who nibbled back a small piece of territory? Or the same fellow who earlier lost the biggest chunk of his empire’s sphere of influence since the Cold War?

Anonymous said...

Three brave and exemplary women were massacred by a gunman in Yountville, California. This of the shootings already seems an epidemic.


Winter7

Russell Osterlund said...

Dr. Brin:

One can be Grandmaster Garry Kasparov on the chessboard and also Kasparov, the politician in checkers or other arenas. A brilliant game's success in one (which can be studied and admired) will not necessarily follow into another endeavor, like poker or Hearts or geopolitics.

Obama's hands were constrained (not meant as criticism of him, btw) by a "perfect storm" of conditions and events in the 2016 campaign. The sad point about this article is that we knew about and saw our nose bloodied; nevertheless, Putin got away with it. And, given the current state of things, we will not be able to "return the favor" in the near future.

TCB said...

Hang Rupert Murdoch? Preposterous notion. INSANITY.

What has he done to deserve hanging?

He should get the brazen bull.

TCB said...

@Russell Osterlund, that 'perfect storm' of constraints which kept the Obama administration from acting was, as we now know just from public knowledge, engineered by nameable and culpable people, including Mitch McConnell (refusing to go public) and the Erik Prince/Rudy Guiliani/FBI/NYPD axis of conspirators (forcing Comey's hand in October). We now also know that Erik Prince was involved in the Seychelles backchannel to (very likely) Putin Himself, who may well have offered strategic advice to these traitors.

I've lately been telling people that the Russia affair is no longer as complex as a Le Carre novel, but on a par with ALL the Le Carre novels put together. Lucky for us we still have a Smiley.

Incidentally, I would not vote Trump in a billion years, nor any other Republican... but I find I would consider voting for Mueller if he somehow ran. We might disagree about a hundred things, but it's clear to me he'd at minimum be fucking honest.

LarryHart said...

California should probably declare that assisting ICE in deportations, especially of Dreamers, is against its religious principles. That would leave no doubt that it is exempt from federal law.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/09/opinion/trump-california-sanctuary-movement.html


...
It is fair to ask whether states should have the power to abstain from federal law enforcement programs that they view as immoral or adverse to their local interests. It is not, however, a new question.

In fact, the question was decisively answered by the Supreme Court in 1997 in a case called Printz v. United States. That case involved a challenge to the federal Brady Act, which required local sheriffs to conduct background checks for gun purchasers. Some sheriffs resisted because they objected to the federal regulation of firearms. The Supreme Court, in a decision written by Justice Antonin Scalia, made clear that the sheriffs, and states generally, have a right to abstain from federal law enforcement schemes with which they disagreed.

It is this principle that distinguishes California’s decision to opt out of deportation efforts from Arizona’s decision to opt in.
...
Attorney General Sessions’s attempt to spin his attack on sanctuary laws as a logical extension of the Supreme Court’s Arizona decision is a transparent attempt to sidestep the clear rule established in Printz.
...

LarryHart said...

TCB:

Incidentally, I would not vote Trump in a billion years, nor any other Republican... but I find I would consider voting for Mueller if he somehow ran.


Uhhhh, you know Mueller is a Republican, right? As are Comey and Rod Rosenstein.

I might have to ammend my hashtag a little.

#ThereAreNoGoodRepublicansAllExceptionsDulyNoted

:)

David Brin said...

onward

onward

Anonymous said...

I'd guess he's saying that native Americans are getting tired of the abuses of illegal immigrants from Europe.

They have been tired of it for years. That's one driver for the Idle No More movement in Canada, and similar ones in the US.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTqV1pnQoos